Just back from the "Romantic Danube" Viking river cruise on the Viking Idun in Early September 2014. We left from Budapest and cruised up to Nuremburg, and added the extension in Prague. Viking gets my highest rating. Here's a few thoughts. The Program Director Barry and the chef Ronald are both out of central casting. Ronald was frequently invited over to our table so we could complement him and beg him for recipes. The menus were flexible, and locally themed. The soups were wonderful. As for Barry, the best test of a PD is how do they handle unexpected problems. One day of our tour, the ship was late getting to a port of call (Regensburg) because of river traffic (there are many locks so the ship actually travels at a low average speed). So at 2 in the morning, Barry called a bus company to pick us up at an earlier port at 8 am, bus us to the city (cars are faster than the ship) so we can have time to do our tour of the city while the ship caught up with us. In Nuremburg, the ship arrived early, so Barry had busses ready for us to take us on an extra morning visit, where we beat the crowds and had some quality time in the city. We just felt like we were in good hands the whole time. The service was extremely friendly and high quality the entire way, on the ship, and off as well, including our many transfers around the cities and to and from the airport. The tour guides were very knowledgeable, and the portable listening devices came in handy. The cabins are small, but the public rooms, especially the bar/lounge, was never crowded (except for Barry's evening 15 minute roundup of the next day's agenda). The roof top was nice, but rarely open due to low bridges. No gym or spa. Food was more than enough, including an open seating buffett breakfast (show up anytime between 7 and 9:30) with an omlettte station. Lunch and dinner had timed seatings for the more formal restaurant, while there was an informal buffett option upstairs by the front deck. The house wine and beer offered at lunch and dinner was actually pretty good. They didn't drop the quality to force you into the premium liquor package, which is very expensive. Nice touch Viking. The coffee machines had snacks next to them all day long, which is wonderful for your diet. Dress code was casual. Only about 20% of the men wore a blazer during the most formal evening of the "captains dinner", though the women noticeably dressed a bit nicer every evening than during the day. Daytime dress was very casual. This trip was certainly a taste of Europe with frequent, short stops in the ports of call. Vienna deserves more than 8 hours. Do the optional classical concert excursion. For visitors from the US, add on Prague, and do the reverse of what we did. Do Prague first for a few days (ladies, do not wear heels in Prague, cobblestones everywhere), get un-jet lagged, and then bus to Nuremburg (via Viking) and go to Vienna and Budapest last. Don't worry about the view from the Nuremburg port (shipping containers), the views will get very charming in no time. The docks themselves are very undramatic (just basically a gangplank), and frequently we were docked side-by-side with other ships, which makes for an interesting morning view from your room. Unlike my Alaskan cruise, there was no risk of motion sickness on this trip. The ship was very stable and we had to look out the window to see if we were moving. We bought our flights through Viking, which put us on non-direct flights, despite other airlines offering direct flights. Still, we liked the guarantees from Viking of making our connections, especially when Lufthansa's pilots went on strike on our departure day. Just a great trip and would recommend it to anybody. We went with another couple, which was a good idea and lots of fun. Even though we were by far the youngest passengers on the ship (I'm 53), we had a blast and felt like we were in good care from Viking.
Not entirely sure the extra cost for the Veranda was worth it. We spent maybe a total of less than one hour on the patio. The public rooms had plenty of space. Maybe on a longer cruise it would be worth it. Still, this would be a choice between the "french Veranda" (sliding glass doors, no patio) or the Veranda. The lower level rooms with portholes seemed a little too dark for me. The size of the room was very small, but fortunately our very large suitcases were able to slide under the bed. Two US electrical outlets, but the European plug adapter came in handy as well. No coffee machine in room, but 2 large public machines in the middle of the ship was well used by us for a variety of coffees. Large in room safe, great shower with strong water pressure. TV had very limited choices, but on demand movies (including appropriately, Amadeus and The Sound of Music). In all, the quarters were very tight which discouraged hanging out in your suite. But the Idun is still relatively new, maybe 2 years old, so everything was in excellent working order.